Sunday 10 September 2023

Great White Egrets

There is quite the heat wave going on at the moment with sunny skies, temperatures in the high 20's, high humidity and an easterly breeze, the best weather we have had in weeks and a little unusual in September.

It is dry and warm overnight so I have been getting the moth box out in the back yard although it is now getting late in the season. I was pleased to finally see an Old Lady along with Mullein Wave and Four Spotted Footman, all back yard favourites, and other highlights have included Treble Bar, Mother of Pearl, Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner and Rusty Dot Pearl.

Old Lady
Treble Bar

Tuesday 5th September was hot and sunny as I headed out to Wembury for a walk. High tide was around 10am and so I caught the 7am bus to try and beat the dog walkers but with the weather being so nice at the moment I failed and the waders along the beach were being regularly disturbed on the incoming tide. Despite this I still managed good views of 2 Redshank, 2 Sanderling, 2 Common Sandpiper, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit,  8 Ringed Plover, 25 Dunlin, 40 Turnstone, 5 Curlew and the usual mobile Oystercatchers. There were only 2 adult winter plumaged Mediterranean Gulls amongst the Black-headed Gulls feeding in the surf line along with Herring Gulls and a few Great Black-backed Gulls and neither of them were ringed.


Bar-tailed Godwits

Swallows were passing over in small groups and all heading east and hidden amongst them were at least 2 Sand Martins. A Grey Heron also flew east offshore and a few Gannets were milling about offshore too. A Grey Seal popped its head out of the water very briefly just off the sewage pipe.

A Clouded Yellow whizzed past too quickly and a Comma and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth were equally flitty but 3 Small Coppers showed well. Chiffchaffs and Whitethroats were flitting about in the bushes and I heard a Cettis Warbler singing briefly in the valley to the beach, presumably the same bird as earlier in the year but which I haven't heard since May.

At least 7 Wheatears were moving along the shoreline and showed very well, all heading west as they prepare to depart to warmer winter climes.



I headed back to Plymouth and stopped off at Laira Bridge for a look around The Plym and Saltram. It was very hot by this time and with news of 3 Great White Egrets present on Blaxton Meadow it was a very sweaty walk from Laira Bridge to the Meadow to try and catch up with them. Fortunately they were still present when I arrived but had decamped to the nearby river where they were fishing for small fry with Grey Herons, Little Egrets, Cormorants and Gulls.

Great White Egret

Great White Egret 

Large and elegant and showing very well, my first on The Plym and a joy to watch.

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

Great White Egret 

It was otherwise quiet in the building heat of the day with the 2 Black-tailed Godwits still present on Blaxton Meadow, 3 Clouded Yellows dashing around Chelson Meadow and a Shag resting on a bouy at Laira Bridge the other highlights.

Wednesday 6th September was hot, sunny and still as we headed off to Lopwell Dam to pick sloes to make Christmas sloe gin. We picked some very good sloes, large and ripe and perfect for sloe gin, and then had a walk down the River Tavy through the woodland where it was delightfully cool out of the sun.

A Kingfisher, a Common Sandpiper, Swallows and House Martins were seen but the highlight was an Osprey perched on a pylon near the railway bridge before it flew down towards the water and disappeared into a riverside tree, unfortunately distant and heat hazy views only.

Saturday 9th September was hot and sultry again as I headed out to Wembury on the 7am bus. There was a lot of disturbance from dog walkers even at this early hour but it was a Saturday and the weather was perfect so I had  expected it to be busy. 

Wall Brown, Wembury

Speckled Wood

Alydus calcaratus

I walked east along the clifftop path again past the church towards The Yealm in the hope of finding a Whinchat but I was out of luck. Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were flitting about in the bushes and a Sand Martin flew east amongst a small flock of Swallows. An adult and juvenile Peregrine dashed overhead chasing a Woodpigeon and at least 3 juvenile Bullfinch were feeding together in the Hawthorns.

I walked back to the church and then on to The Point, watching the waders along the beach being moved back and forth by walkers and I counted 5 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Sanderling, 21 Turnstone, 8 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin with the usual Oystercatchers and singles of Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Curlew but actual counts were probably higher.

A Stock Dove was again seen flying around The Point and a Reed Warbler gave itself away in the undergrowth as it quietly sang and with a bit of phishing it revealed itself briefly before scuttling back into cover. 

Reed Warbler

A Wheatear was seen in the cow field with a second bird found at The Point and there were also 2 Yellow Wagtails in with cows and they showed very well until deciding they had had enough and flew off west.


Yellow Wagtail

I stopped off at Laira Bridge on the way home and had a very hot and sticky walk up to Marsh Mills before catching a bus home. Again no Whinchats were found but the 3 Great White Egrets were still present on Blaxton Meadow as were 3 Clouded Yellows on Chelson Meadow.

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